Academies' Presidents Comment on OMB Peer Review Guidelines

Statement from
Bruce Alberts, President, National Academy of Sciences,
Wm. A. Wulf, President, National Academy of Engineering,
and Harvey Fineberg, President, Institute of Medicine

April 15, 2004

The National Academies are pleased to learn of the Revised Information Quality Bulletin for Peer Review that was released today by the Office of Management and Budget for additional public comment. "The revised guidance has benefited greatly from comments submitted on the original draft," noted Harvey V. Fineberg, president of the Institute of Medicine. Bruce Alberts, president of the National Academy of Sciences, stated: "If adopted, I believe that this policy will help to improve the quality of the government's scientific assessments and thereby its decision-making." Dr. Fineberg also commented that "the OMB Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs has crafted guidelines that better accommodate the diverse circumstances of various federal agencies while serving to improve the technical quality and credibility of scientific information through peer review."

The proposed policy specifies that the level of necessary peer review depends on the potential impact of the pertinent scientific information and exempts information that applies to urgent matters of health, safety, and national security. The revised draft cites the conflict-of-interest guidelines used by the National Academies and the peer review experience of the National Research Council as models for the consideration of federal agencies.

The National Academies commend OMB for its serious consideration of public comments received on the original draft and its willingness to make significant changes in response to those comments. "While the extended comment period will permit further refinements in the proposed guidance," said Wm. A. Wulf, president of the National Academy of Engineering, "these revised guidelines on peer review point to a new and constructive era of scientific engagement in public policy-making."

Bruce Alberts
President, National Academy of Sciences

Wm. A. Wulf
President, National Academy of Engineering

Harvey V. Fineberg
President, Institute of Medicine